Albany Agenda

Tenant advocates alarmed about latest budget negotiations

Housing Justice for All published a fact sheet comparing the current version of “good cause” eviction to what was originally proposed.

A new version of “good cause” eviction reportedly includes further exemptions.

A new version of “good cause” eviction reportedly includes further exemptions. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Tenant advocates are ringing the alarm bell on potential “good cause” eviction carve-outs that they charge will turn the tenant protections into “swiss cheese.” New analysis of what activists are calling Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal – which includes even more concessions compared to leaked details on Friday – could exclude over 2.8 million renters across the state. 

The analysis from Housing Justice for All broke down how many tenants are poised to get left out under each provision of potential carve out compared to the legislative version from state Sen. Julia Salazar and Assembly Member Pamela Hunter. It also compared each proposed provision to the original legislation as well as “good cause” laws in New Jersey and California. 

City & State reported Friday on a number of details of the proposed “good cause” compromise, including exemptions for high-rent apartments and landlords with portfolios of 10 units or fewer. The new analysis from Housing Justice for All includes even more potential compromises, however. According to the fact sheet shared with City & State, the governor’s proposal would add two reasons for a landlord to evict a tenant compared to the Salazar and Hunter bill. Those are the “good faith” removal of an apartment from the market and “good faith” substantial apartment rehabilitation. The tenant rights coalition charges in its fact sheet that the two new causes for eviction are ones that “landlords will use to completely bypass the law.” The group warned that it would also encourage landlords to “mass evict tenants” in gentrifying low-income neighborhoods in order to perform minor renovations and raise the rent substantially. 

It was unclear on Monday what, if any, enforcement mechanisms would be in place to ensure that landlords would engage in the “good faith” causes for eviction. 

Additionally, the Housing Justice for All Analysis found that over 422,000 renters would be excluded due to the exemption for new construction, which according to the group’s fact sheet would be retroactive to 2009 rather than simply for future construction. The tenant advocates said in the document that Hochul’s version of “good cause” eviction would exempt any building completed between 2009 and this year until 2039. It would still include the 30-year exemption for future construction previously reported by City & State, but would apply retroactively to the past 15 years as well. California, which enacted its own version of “good cause” eviction in 2023, exempted any building from the last 15 years, but does not exempt future construction. The group’s fact sheet note’s that too.

The vast majority of the 2.8 million potential tenants excluded – a number first reported on by Politico New York – comes from the opt-in option for the tenant protections outside of New York City. According to Housing Justice for All, nearly 2.2 million renters would not benefit from the law even if every major upstate city chose to opt in. The analysis predicts that outside of New York City, nearly 70% of renters live in municipalities “that are unlikely to ever opt-in.” The fact sheet also notes that the portfolio size exemption would also “dramatically limit the scope of the bill” in places where the majority of rental stock is single-family homes or duplexes.

After details of the housing deal first began to leak on Friday, tenant advocates, progressives and small landlords alike expressed opposition to the potential deal. “The housing policy disaster being reported out of Albany has done the seemingly impossible: united everyone in outrage,” said a spokesperson for the Homeowners for an Affordable New York coalition, which represents small landlords, in a Friday statement. The group urged lawmakers to reject the proposal, something that tenant advocates are pushing for as well. At least two members of Congress – Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Jamaal Bowman – came out against the proposed compromise on social media. “This deal will leave too many tenants without vital protections against evictions and rent hikes, “ Velázquez wrote on X. “We need a housing package that addresses the housing crisis and doesn’t leave families behind.”

A spokesperson for the governor said they would not comment on ongoing negotiations.